Keita Sagaki is an amazing artist and his art is unique and incomparable to such an extent that there’s hardly any other like him. Keita’s drawings or illustrations look like any well done drawing from a distance but a closure look reveals that his drawings of The Last Supper or Annunciation have been created from thousands of small doodles which include random figures and all sorts of imaginary creatures and cartoons. Keita draws them very close in a masterly manner and woven together they take form of an everyday Japanese scene or a famous monumental work of art like Mona Lisa. We had an email communication with Keita because we wanted him here at this website. Keita sent us his answers in Japanese that have been translated by a friend. We thank Keita Sagaki for his support to this website and wish him best of luck for his solo exhibition in September this year. Here’s our email interview with Keita Sagaki:
My name is Keita Sagaki. I am from Japan and I live in Tokyo. I attended the art college of Fukushima almost 10 years ago. I work as an artist and do exhibitions. I’m working as an art teacher in a high school.
When did you start creating such amazing works of art?
There are two backbones of my art: The first is the mandala. Mandala is a religious painting and Buddhist Tantric Buddhism. I first saw mandala when my father took me to the elementary school. It was a very overwhelming experience for me. It was a very intricate and full color mandala and had a psychedelic charm. The picture looked like inferno. The experience will remain with me forever as a trauma. Now I think about mandalas when I think of creating a very fine painting. It’s affected my art a lot.
The second one is comics. I like drawing mangas very much. I’ve been drawing cartoons and doodles in textbooks and notes since childhood. It was a great time. I think the experience of drawing those things has also led me to my art.
I think of painting in terms of classical art, like a romantic landscape painting of a familiar city. However, that image is now decomposed gradually as I approached ahead in life and now it seems transformed into the world of evil spirits of rivers and mountains where mysterious characters wriggle. I mean to say that our position and perspective changes the picture of the world. The real world is always the same. We live in it dominated by prejudices and preconceptions. I think the sense of beauty and value of a person, have become unstable now.
Whatever we evaluate ordinarily, those beautiful or grotesque scenes depend on how we look at them. And vice versa of course, they actually complement each other, foil each other and counter each other (like all beautiful and dirty things, for example, life and death) to extremes. I wish to express through my art that the world where we live is a place where all forces exist and retaliate each other.
It varies depending on the size of the work. The longest it has taken me is about 10 months in the picture “Idola – The last supper” (h.194 × w.388 cm.). Ukiyo-e series got completed in about two weeks… an average for a piece.
How do you create you illustrations? How do you get the idea for any work?
I do not create a draft for my work. I start drawing with a pen directly. So the idea of character is what almost comes up on the spot as improvisation. It might be close to the automatic system of Surrealism. In addition, there are times when anything like any activity or lyrics or any word on a page or in dictionary springs up an idea to start work.
The main art supplies I have are drafting pens. I often use 0.3 to 0.5 approximately. In addition, part of the gray I draw using Usuzumi pen (already diluted with water and India ink).
What are your future plans and ambitions. Any projects in mind?
I am going to have a solo exhibition in Tokyo in September. This is my first and I want it to be a great success. Then I’m looking forward to presentation of my work abroad. There are millions who have seen my paintings at Internet and I’d like them to see my work in a real art setup. I think their perception of my art will be different when they see it not through their browser. They’ll be able to appreciate my art well and develop connect with it.
Music in one of the major driving force for me. I listen to music most of times when I work. I especially like rock. I also listen well to the storytellers. The traditional Japanese comic story entertainment is very interesting. I also like reading. I like Haruki Murakami in particular. I’ve all his novels, essays, and translations.